Better packaging line efficiency can increase your company’s output and maximize profits. Success in this area also reduces downtime and associated expenses while lowering bills, especially if you choose options that reduce energy consumption. What are the best tips to try?

1. Reduce Energy Consumption with Natural Lighting when Possible

Consider how you could modify the building so that the area surrounding the packaging line relies on natural light. Complement those sources with energy-efficient lighting to use when sunlight is insufficient.

Some decision-makers maximize this option by specifically designing new plants to reduce energy consumption and otherwise be eco-friendly. PepsiCo recently showed the possibilities when it opened its first “green” facility in China.

The building has an environmental monitoring system that shows real-time energy and water usage statistics on every production line or piece of equipment. The packaging area and 75% of the overall building depend on natural light.

Leaders expect these changes will save 4 million kilowatt hours of energy compared to a former plant on the site, and it will use 23% less energy than other PepsiCo plants in the country.

As you explore ways to increase natural lighting, prioritize changes that will give workers the visibility required to do their jobs well. Otherwise, you may unintentionally reduce packaging line efficiency while trying to save energy.

2. Schedule a Third-Party Audit

Many packaging plant leaders want to reduce energy consumption but need help determining which aspects to improve first. Initial investments in the areas that will yield the biggest wins help everyone stay motivated. Hiring an external expert to evaluate how your packaging plant uses energy is a practical way to identify the most meaningful changes to make.

One study in the United Kingdom involved a company using an ultrasound camera to detect compressed air leaks in various industrial settings. One of the main takeaways was that each costs £1,200 per year on average.

When the research involved visiting a food packaging plant, participants found 22 leaks collectively costing £13,000. Additionally, the issues spanned various types, including those associated with vacuum equipment and the ventilation system.

Energy audits are comprehensive and involve studying energy usage trends and comparing them to industry averages. Additionally, auditors will find the most resource-intensive processes or equipment and recommend how to align those with best practices.

The final audit step involves the professionals providing a report detailing all recommendations. Clients also receive breakdowns of their current energy usage and how much it would change if companies implemented all the suggestions. That data shows decision-makers why they must prioritize packaging line efficiency now to keep costs manageable and stay on track to meet sustainability goals.

Relying on an outside party for guidance can also encourage workers to take the implemented changes seriously, especially if the auditor addresses the employees directly to explain what’s changing and the necessities driving those decisions.

3. Select and Monitor Equipment Appropriately

Estimates suggest foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people in the United States annually. However, compressed air systems play important roles in minimizing such occurrences, especially when packaging professionals and other industrial leaders choose the appropriate types for their packaging lines. For example, oil-free options, desiccant dryers and carbon filters minimize microorganism growth.

Choosing the right air compressor for packaged goods is an important energy-saving tip because it reduces instances where people waste equipment time by running machines to create products that ultimately get recalled due to safety issues. People should always look for energy-conserving options when researching specialized equipment.

Other options also exist. In one example, the personal care product manufacturer deployed an advanced system that used sensors and advanced software to identify opportunities to improve pneumatic processes, find leaks and collect analytics on several packaging lines. This approach reduced energy usage by 15% while aligning with the company’s sustainability commitments.

Executives also expected further benefits, particularly as they scaled the solution and became more accustomed to integrating it into the workflow. This improvement made the enterprise’s machines more reliable, besides cutting down on energy waste.

Consider creating a preventive maintenance strategy, following the lead of people in the 88% of facilities that have already done it. Failing equipment can waste energy for months before people notice the problems. However, when professionals examine equipment at the recommended intervals, such oversights become much less likely.

4. Achieve Packaging Line Efficiency with Strategic Upgrades

Although proper maintenance is essential for running efficient packaging lines, you may need to go further to achieve the desired results. Assess whether now is the right time to retire aging equipment or upgrade specific parts of existing machinery.

Replacing an old model with a newer one could be the best decision if the machine frequently breaks down and causes time-consuming outages. Alternatively, if the equipment still provides trouble-free operations, consider switching out the parts that use the most energy with more efficient components.

In other cases, the most appropriate option is to find the aspects of a packaging line that would benefit from high-speed improvements. The leaders of a Coca-Cola plant did that when upgrading a canning line to a high-speed offering. Estimates suggested it would fill 2,000 cans every minute. The executives also added auto-sleep motors to some equipment, recognizing that as a small but effective way to gain packaging line efficiency.

People must also understand that efforts to reduce energy consumption may extend to cutting waste. Talking to packaging line workers is an excellent way to understand the typical workflow slowdowns outside their control. If a person must wait for a previous step to finish or products to reach them, those are all things leaders could attempt to address through process optimization.

Pursue Continuous Improvement

Besides using these four tips to make your packaging lines more energy-efficient, adopt the mindset of always looking for additional ways to enhance operations. Factors such as new products or an expanded workforce could change how your company uses energy. Knowing when that happens and optimizing the outcomes can maintain a high output and culture of excellence at your plant.

Getting ongoing feedback from line workers is also wise, especially immediately before and after making planned workflow adjustments. Employees can detail what is going well and which aspects still pose challenges, allowing executives to make the most impactful decisions.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly covers trends in the industrial sector.